|Length:||23.9 miles (38.5 km)|
|Meets:||A811, A818, B832, A817, A83|
|Route outline (key)|
After finally leaving the sprawling suburbs of Glasgow, which must now include Alexandria and Balloch, the A82 gets a taste of freedom, sprinting north along the shores of Loch Lomond. However, the road used today is a modern construction, with the old road still largely intact along the shore of the loch itself.
At Tarbet, the road reaches a TOTSO, with the A83 continuing ahead, and the A82 suffering the indignity of turning off. However, further indignity is just around the corner, literally, as the road degenerates to little better than a cart track along the shore of the northern end of Loch Lomond, finally regaining its full stature as it climbs up through Glen Falloch on its way to Crianlarich.
Further Investigation Required.
The OS map shows several tracks on the hillside above the current A82, one of which is marked as the Old Military Road (just north of Tarbet). However, between the new road to Tarbet and the railway line north of that it is possible that much of the military roads deviations from the modern route have been lost.
Further Investigation Required.
It is believed that the road that was classified in 1922 was the route that Telford had built / repaired at the beginning of the 19th Century. Apart from widening and maintenance, there is no evidence that this road was changed significantly even in the 1930s. It has therefore been described below, until further information is found.
The old road can still be traced from Balloch to Tarbet, after which the road is, of course, essentially unchanged from 1930 until we reach Ardlui and start the ascent through Glen Falloch. To find the old road, however, we need to head east from the Balloch Roundabout along the A811. At the next roundabout, we turn left onto Old Luss Road, past McDonalds and left again at the next roundabout.
After passing a few houses, however, the road becomes no more than a tree-lined dead end frequented by cyclists and dog-walkers. Fortunately this is part of the Loch Lomond Cycleway, so progress can be maintained past the holiday village and back to the modern route. The next right, signed for Duck Bay, is again the old road and after passing the hotel the road hugs the coast, providing a popular picnic area for Glaswegians. We then rejoin the modern route past the Arden Roundabout, where the A818 turns off for Helensburgh. The next surviving section of the old road is an abandoned stretch on the left hand side which passes through trees, but is no more than farm access.
At the northern end of this loop, the old road crosses straight over the modern route to cross the stone bridge that sits prominently at the roadside. This bridge has had its parapet truncated to make room for the new road (see left). After passing the golf course, the old road is again on the opposite side of the modern route, but this time as a layby. As we pass the main Loch Lomond Golf Course, the current road is mainly an on-line upgrade of the old route - partly due to pressures of land. This takes us past junctions with the B832 and A817.
Just north of Arnburn, there is again a loop on the west side of the road, this time retained as property access. But then the cycle track drops away from the modern route onto the old road and follows it to the junction with the Luss road. The road through Aldochlay and Luss is the old route of the A82, which continues beyond the modern A82 junction, past the hotel. A layby on the opposite side of the road again shows the old alignment, but after that the amount of level land available on the shore side means that the road had to be improved on line.
There are a couple of shore-side laybys as we approach Inverbeg, but whether these are actually the old alignment, or temporary pieces of road constructed while the new road was built on the alignment of the old is uncertain. Certainly, the laybys appear to be too narrow and bear no evidence of being part of the 1930s alignment on the ground. As we reach Rubha Mor the old road appears again on the shore side, still used by the cycleway. There are now 2-3 miles of old road running alongside the modern A82 as we round Firkin Point and Rubha Dubh, passing a number of properties along the way. There is another shoreside loop at Stuckgowan, and then a long piece of the old road remains on the opposite side of the road as a layby, albeit one parallel to and level with the modern route. The approach into Tarbet does not seem to have changed, although the alignment of the car park may suggest a former route - one predating the Hotel though!
From Tarbet to Ardlui, the road as we see it today is almost certainly the same as Telford travelled at the beginning of the nineteenth century, after he had completed his work. The road may be a little wider, the bridges widened or rebuilt, but otherwise there is no obvious evidence for a significant change in the alignment.
The road north of the Balloch Roundabout was built in the 1980s, to provide a better route north. At the time, it was envisaged that this new, wide route would continue north to link up with the improvements through Glen Falloch between Ardlui and Crianlarich. 20-odd years later we are still waiting.
The result is that from Balloch to Tarbet, the road is entirely new. In a few places the new road was clearly constructed 'on-line', but for the most part the old road still survives, either as a local access road for the lochside properties, as laybys off the A82 mainline, as the Loch Lomond Cycle track or as the village road through Luss (see above). The only alteration to this is that the new A817 was built sometime after the new road was completed, and so the junction was initially widened to D2 to facilitate turning. This has, however, since been reduced to D1 to remove the overtaking opportunity.
Of particular interest along the road is that several of the bridges over streams appear to have been constructed wide enough for a dual carriageway. By no means are all this wide, however, and the space is taken up with generous verges and the cycle track. It is probably to allow for visibility splays as the road twists and turns, as is found elsewhere in the country. At Inverbeg, a small box underpass provides access to the shoreside properties from the old road alignment in front of the Inn.
This section of the road is often quoted as being the only rural part of the road that conforms to modern design standards, and as we turn off at Tarbet to continue our journey north, the reality of that statement is soon discovered. As we pull out of the village, the road rapidly narrows to the absolute minimum required to allow two cars to pass at speed. This results in lorries and buses often having to inch past one another, constantly checking mirrors. There are brief spurts that have been improved - past the power station at Inveruglas and the approach to Ardlui, but there are also the infamous 'temporary' traffic lights at Pulpit Rock which have now celebrated their 25th Birthday - they had a cake and everything!
The old bridge at Auchentullich across the River Fruin near Arden still stands, right alongside the modern A82 route. It is a fairly typical three-arch stone bridge, with the centre arch wider and spanning the river except in times of flood. The most interesting thing is, however, that when the new road was built the chosen route took it so close to the old bridge that the south western corner of the parapet had to be cut off to let the new road through. Today the bridge is part of the cycle track.
Further north, the old bridge at Rossdhu also survives as private access to houses. This appears to be a single stone arch, although the stream below is heavily overgrown. The road is, however, wide enough for modern traffic, albeit passing close to the houses.
The new bridges in both locations are standard single-span concrete decks.
Main Article: Luss Bridge
Before the Luss bypass was built, the A82 used to pass straight through the village, crossing the River Luss on the interesting old bridge. The new bridge stands approximately 250m upstream.
The old bridge at Inverbeg is still visible in the trees, but even in winter it proved impossible to get a photo of it! The old alignment to the north is now part of the Glen Douglas Road, while to the south it is the car park for the Inverbeg Inn. The bridge itself appears to be private access for the Inn.
A little to the south, the old bridge pictured right still sits on the western side of the road. It is unfortunately shorn of its parapets, but nevertheless clearly dates from the 19th Century. This poses the interesting query of whether it was part of the 1930s route or not, as bridges further north (see Rubha Ban below) were clearly widened at that time.
Rubha Ban Bridges
As the image on the left shows, some of the old bridges on the abandoned stretch of the A82 near Rubha Ban have an interesting history. The 1930s widening of the structure can clearly be seen in the square-edged concrete deck, but the old arch remains below. Whether this arch was the one constructed by Telford, or even Caulfeild as they built their roads north is now very difficult to tell, but it does show that even in the 1930s these arches were deemed suitable for retention as the road was improved.
Stuckendroin Bridge is one of many old, narrow stone arches that carry the A82 north from Tarbet towards Glen Falloch. However, for some reason this structure has been singled out for improvements, despite appearing wider and straighter than some of the others. It may be part of the ongoing improvement works, and this bridge is intended to be retained by any future plans, or it may simply be the easiest bridge to do, considering land constraints.
The bridge was widened in 2010, with single file traffic using the western side of the old structure, while a new extension was fitted on the eastern, lochside, of the bridge. This has significantly widened this old bridge, and along with widening to the south, provided a much better alignment for a short stretch.